ForumsProgramming ForumSo you wanna make a game, eh? Here's a guide!

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Salvidian
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Salvidian
4,229 posts
Blacksmith

http://i.imm.io/FZRa.png
Special thanks to MrDayCee for the image. Text edited by Salvidian.



This site is full of people who want to fulfill their aspirations of making flash games. Unfortunately, the help here isn't great. To combat this severe epidemic of naivete and problems, I am here to help you. I promise to only be extremely serious within the topic. Any and all questions will be answered to the fullest extent of my knowledge. Reading this guide WILL NOT guarantee you all of the knowledge required to make flash games. They are very complicated. This is merely a rundown of the process.

So... What's in games that make them so fantastic?
Basic flash games are generally composed into 3 parts: sound, graphics, and, of course, the codes that make the game work.

a. Sound
Sound is one of two elements of flash games that is entirely cosmetic. It's only there to make the player have a more, real, and enjoyable experience. The sounds you hear in games were created through recording sounds onto a computer, and then editing them. This includes stuff like background music, laser gun blasts, and even dialogue. To record your desired sounds, it helps to know what you want your sound effects to sound like. It helps to brainstorm on paper before actually going through the process. After that, you'll need a microphone to physically record your sounds. Then try to replicate your desired sounds with household products that are at easy accessibility. Make sure you cut your sound files to a good length. We will explain how to incorporate your sound files into your game later.

b. Graphics
Graphics is the other half of the cosmetic portion of flash games. It's a simple enough topic to grasp. Everything you see in a game was comprised of graphics. The background, characters, and everything in between. Graphics aren't difficult to create, although they might appear hard. To create graphics, try making a storyboard of what you'd like your characters to look like, as well as a little a brainstorming for level designs, weapons, upgrade packs, and the like. Everything visible within your game should have good graphics to help capture your audience's attention. Designing a game with zombies? Well, zombies belong in the "horror" category, so creepy, dark-colored graphics generally work fine. Designing a happy game like one of John's? Bright, cartoony graphics are cool for that, aren't they? Now, let's talk about how you'd like your graphics to work for a minute. When you're making your little dude walk, he needs to appear like he's walking, right? Anyone making their characters' graphics move use GIF images. GIF is a file format like JPEG, PNG, or MOV. It just moves on it's own, just like your characters need to. GIF images work in such a way that they are similar to flipping through a stack of post-it notes. Y'know, each little page adds to the image, and it looks like it's moving. Each slide needs to be designed separately in order to be played in succession.
c. Programming
Programming is, in my opinion, the most difficult part of designing games because it requires a good deal of knowledge to know what youâre doing. You also canât play around with different software to get your games to wor. You need to know exactly how to do certain things at certain times. Fortunately, there are tons of different YouTube tutorials out there and if youâre in school there are usually lots of classes offered to help beginners learn the ropes and advanced programmers learn the best ways to do stuff. If youâre planning to make a game for AG, youâll need to use a program that produces games in the FLV format, or flash in layman's terms. Adobe Flash can do this, but itâs pretty pricey, so I recommend sticking with a program like Stencyl, which is completely free and is fairly simple to use. However, with simplicity, your games will be a bit more limited than you might want them to be. When attempting to program something, most languages will appear in formats similar to steps, much like this:

Movement script
>Player presses âleftâ arrow key
>Character moves in the left direction at a certain speed
>Player lets go of âleftâ arrow key
>Character moves in a stopped position at a speed of 0

Movement scripts are fairly easy to create. Theyâre written in a sense similar to that, but you need to rearrange some stuff and add the numbers. I highly recommend you find a friend to give you a hand with programing, if you know anyone who can do it.


What will I need to start?
Darn! These general questions always get me. If youâre an absolute novice, thereâs a neat program out there called Gamemaker Light that comes with a few tutorials that teach the user how games work. Itâs completely free and can be found by Google-ing Gamemaker Light. If you know a little bit of what youâre doing and know how to program flash, Stencyl probably would be a good place to go. Your first games made with Stencyl are even in the correct format for AG, so if you make an awesome game that youâre proud of and donât want to move onto Adobe, it'll still work. Adobe Flash is fantastic for intricate games and advanced developers, but it also comes with a hefty price tag. For graphics, GIMP isnât bad. Itâs free and it does most things Photoshop can do, but itâs a little more simpler. Itâs also a little bit better at GIF animations, so making your characters move is more achievable with GIMP. Itâs completely free. As far as sound goes, any program out there that can cut down files down and can record them via microphone would be fine. I know most computers come with Windows Movie Editor, so thatâd be a good place to look. Youâll also need a microphone of some sort, of course. Using these supplies itâs very easy to make your first game.

Well... I made a couple of games... Now what?
Then youâre probably raring to go for your first project, huh? Exciting! Well, if itâs going to be big, youâll need some help, huh? If you can do everything yourself and it looks good[/], then youâd probably be okay going solo, but itâd be lonely and the journey will be long. If you can do at least 1 out of the 3 parts necessary for making games, then you can call up a couple of friends to cover for the other two parts. Iâd begin by compromising on a storyline, which is something Iâm sure can be done with even 1 person. Of course, if your game doesnât utilize any story at all, this can be skipped, but even Balloon in a Wasteland had a storyline. Guy loses his balloon and fights monsters. Thatâs it. After writing a storyline, try drawing everything on paper before you do it on computer. Itâs faster, believe me. Draw the levels, choose where you want everything to be, draw the characters, vehicles, whatever. Everything the player will be able to see in the game. Make sure your graphics reflect the type of game you want. That should take a while. Finally, a much faster process would be deciding what you want your sounds to sound like. Zombie game? Write a dialogue/sound effect script for your zombie characters. Is the dialogue narrated? Write a script for every actor. Make sure you decide what emotion should be used when speaking instead of just reading a script. Then decide on background music. Mysterious? Epic? Have your music guy figure out how to write the song(s) and what instruments to use.


That was exhausting... Can I put my game together now?
Yeppers! This is the final stage in game building. Once itâs together, play it over and over and over and over and over and over again. Then 15 more times. Make sure you make your characters move into every little crevice, crack, and corner and make sure every enemy gets a chance at killing you. This ests for bugs and helps you do a mental check to make sure your game is exactly the way you wanted it. It never hurts to go back and change stuff. Believe me, if you leave a bad bug in your game, youâll definitely hear about it! You want to make this of high quality- youâre putting your name on it after all, arenât you? The final stage is sending it off to AG. Fill out the form, which will only take a few hours at the most. You should know how to make all of those little images needed. If it isnât accepted, try and try again. If it is, YEAHHH!!!!


[i]If anything in this guide is incorrect tell me ASAP

  • 21 Replies
jeol
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jeol
3,842 posts
Herald

GIFs have incredible control if you use GIMP and download a few good plug-ins. It's compatible with sending out animations to other programs, like Adobe Flash and Stencyl. I haven't used a program that didn't allow for GIF image formats, so I don't know where you're getting your facts from. Stencyl and Adobe Flash both have the capability for GIF images, and it isn't hard to do an effect command so the animation doesn't go on forever. I thought that was self-explanatory, but maybe not.

Like I mentioned before, sprites are much easier to use given that they can operate from actual code and not on cycle. They are actually often used on websites to change from one image to another, for example if you hover over a link that has a picture. You can't do that with .gifs. You also use sprites for about every other type of input with games and such (besides games that use animation, such as practically all 3D games and most 2D platform shooters like Raze since it requires multiple complex movements - in that case, it almost like a sprite anyways, because you have each moving part in a picture that the game picks up). You could probably use .gifs for sprites, but I think .png is most commonly used for its high quality.
You can convert .GIFs to sprites pretty quickly. Even Gamemaker allows the user to do this.

Probably, but the point is that they are still different. .gifs are on a static cycle, sprites are more flexible.
I mentioned Stencyl could produce games in flash. I don't know why anyone wouldn't think I said that.

Well, I think that was elaborated upon because you said FLV rather than SWF.
KentyBK
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KentyBK
570 posts
Peasant

GIFs have incredible control if you use GIMP and download a few good plug-ins. It's compatible with sending out animations to other programs, like Adobe Flash and Stencyl. I haven't used a program that didn't allow for GIF image formats, so I don't know where you're getting your facts from. Stencyl and Adobe Flash both have the capability for GIF images, and it isn't hard to do an effect command so the animation doesn't go on forever. I thought that was self-explanatory, but maybe not.


Well yeah sure, you have good control when *making* them in Gimp, but that's not quite what I meant. When I said "control" I meant that in the sense of being changeable at runtime.
One good example to illustrate this would be changing the speed with which your animations cycle. Imagine a powerup in your game that doubles your characters speed. In addition to simply increasing the relevant variables for your movement calculations, you'll also want to reduce the time inbetween frames, to make the walking animations play faster. If you really feel like being fancy, you could probably make the animation speed dependant on your characters current speed instead of using fixed values.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly sure you can't do this sort of thing simply with preloaded gif animations. Atleast without some sort of code to handle this sort of thing. At which point you might as well use sprite sheets, because those are also easier to manage, compared to seperate gifs for every simple animation.

You could probably use .gifs for sprites, but I think .png is most commonly used for its high quality.


That depends. Just in terms of image compression, you won't notice much of a difference, because both use a lossless compression.

The main difference between the two(apart from animation) is that .gif only has an 8-bit color palette (i.e 256 distinct colors) as opposed to .png which supports 24-bit "true color". Not to mention .png images can also have an alpha channel.

Alternativly you can use .bmp, but those tend to be massive because they're uncompressed.

Well, I think that was elaborated upon because you said FLV rather than SWF.


Yep, it was just a simple clarification, because those two are easy to mix up. For the record, FLV is basically the default file format for online video files, like Youtube videos.
Salvidian
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Salvidian
4,229 posts
Blacksmith

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly sure you can't do this sort of thing simply with preloaded gif animations. Atleast without some sort of code to handle this sort of thing. At which point you might as well use sprite sheets, because those are also easier to manage, compared to seperate gifs for every simple animation.


Well yeah, obviously you'd need at least a little code to manage the cause and effects, or you'd have your character walking but not actually moving. I like preloading GIF animations to create sprites, which is virtually converting the image. You have the power you had when creating the GIFs and the, well, awesomeness of having a sprite. It's a best of both worlds. I honestly would have thought you'd do that as well, as you obviously know a thing or two about game making. Like I said, I haven't used a program before that didn't allow,if not recommend, GIF animations to be converted into sprites. All the goodies, like timing, carry over to the sprite. That's why you don't get images that continuously play over and over again. Or, if one would like, they could just code some stuff to give the GIF a timer after it becomes a sprite, but that's not too bright. Too much work.

Alternativly you can use .bmp, but those tend to be massive because they're uncompressed.


Lol .bmp. Haven't used that since my days with Microsoft Paint. xD

Yep, it was just a simple clarification, because those two are easy to mix up. For the record, FLV is basically the default file format for online video files, like Youtube videos.


Yeah, I don't know how I didn't catch that. Anyone with a YouTube channel back in 2005-07 had to pre-convert their videos to FLV before uploading. What a pain.

Although, I have heard a few stories of people making FLV files like .SWF, so the user could manipulate them.
KentyBK
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KentyBK
570 posts
Peasant

You have the power you had when creating the GIFs and the, well, awesomeness of having a sprite. It's a best of both worlds.


Well, at that point it's really more of a difference in workflow than anything else. My main point was against just loading the .gif animations and not using sprite sheets.

But apart from that, GIFs are simply a worse format for sprites than PNGs. Being limited to 256 colors and no Alpha hurts in the long-run.
vittoriogeovanni
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vittoriogeovanni
4 posts
Blacksmith

yeah good idea

Smokeshow
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Smokeshow
70 posts
Shepherd

Great tutorial!

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